Rutter Gloria, Sedibeng Choral Society

Hackney Singers’ and Sedibeng “liberating” concert dazzles audience

Botswana’s Sedibeng Choral Society inspired community choir Hackney Singers and the audience in a dazzling joint performance at a full St. John-at- Hackney on Friday 8 October. “The Hackney Singers were truly inspired to reach another level tonight by the Sedibeng Choral Society”, said Mark Shanahan, Hackney Singers Musical Director. “To see the way they were inspired when they sang – especially during the encore – was just fantastic”.

The Sedibeng Choral Society journeyed to Hackney as part of their first tour outside of Botswana to launch Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook, a spin-off from the BBC TV series the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, for which Sedibeng provided music. Members of the choir stayed with Hackney Singers in Hackney, Stoke Newington, Waltham Forest and further afield. For many, it was their first trip outside Botswana.

They opened Friday night’s musical extravaganza with a choreographed performance entitled ‘Made in Botswana’, featuring beautifully-sung traditional African music, dancing and drumming, injected with a unique sense of humour and fun that brought a bit of Botswana to Hackney. “It is not the first Hackney Singers event that I have attended, but it was my favourite – I loved it!” said Martina Breslin, from Canning Town, one of the 600/700 audience that attended. “I really enjoyed the Batswana performance. It was beautiful and I loved how animated they were. I loved that you did a piece together – there was an energy about it.”

Sedibeng Choral Society received a five-minute standing ovation from the audience – a hard act for Hackney Singers to follow. However, buoyed by the energy of the Sedibeng performance and bolstered by the bold sounds of the internationally-renowned Onyx Brass, they rose to the occasion. “The Sedibeng Choral Society provided us with energy, movement and a really sincere performance”, said Dan Ludford-Thomas, Hackney Singers Associate Conductor. “It inspired the Hackney Singers to go to an extra level tonight. It was thoroughly enjoyable and to see the two contrasts was amazing. I could hear the buzz behind me from the Sedibeng Choral Society appreciating the Hackney Singers performance.”

Hackney Singers Repétiteur, Andrew Storey put in an impressive performance on the organ, keeping pace with the fast rhythms and complex arrangements as Hackney Singers sung John Rutter’s ‘Gloria’ and Hubert Parry’s ‘I was glad’. He called the performance a “triumph” and “one of the best in the 20 years that I have been doing this”.

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